When 4-year-old Alex Christopher Mercado went missing Friday in Mendota, California, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department began an immediate search. But it didn’t bring a happy ending the next day.
He was found stuffed in the dryer at a home where his babysitter lives next door. Alex had been killed and then hid in the dryer, police say. A 14-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion on murder…
UPDATE: Alex was drowned, then placed in closet dryer by creepy neighbor boy.
Alex was lured inside his nextdoor neighbor’s house and drowned
Police say the 4-year-old was playing outside his home when a 14-year-old neighbor boy brought Alex into his house and killed him. They won’t say what the teen’s motives were,but that’s expected to be revealed when they officially charge him.
But according to those who knew him, the 14-year-old was the kind who creeped people out. “I used to sit next to him in class and he was the kind of kid that would creep me out,” 13-year-old Miguel Amador told the Fresno Bee. “He was always looking at you, just staring at you.”
Mendota City Councilman Joseph Riofrio says the same thing about the boy who would come into his video store with his mother. The teen would do weird things like wear a parka in the middle of the summer.
Alex was molested and sodomized before his murder
Last Friday afternoon, Alex was playing in his yard when Castro apparently lured the boy inside his house while no one else was home. According to the charges, that’s when he molested and sodomized young Alex, then drown him so he couldn’t tell anyone. He hid the boy’s body in a dyer in the closet.
Though others have described Castro as giving them the creeps, his mother Elsa Castro says he was a good boy who’d never been in trouble before. He was doing well in 8th grade, she said, getting B’s and C’s. “He’s never hurt anyone,” she told the Fresno Bee. “He’s a good, intelligent boy who was raised right. All I can say is that I did my best.”
He’s now been charged as an adult with murder, molestation, sodomy, kidnapping and murder of a witness to prevent testimony. Under California law, a boy this young can neither get the death penalty or life in prison. But he does face a maximum of 47 years.
UPDATE III: Raul Renato Castro drowned Alex in the bathtub because he worried he’d tell about being molested.
In an affidavit, the the 14-year-old originally told police he knew nothing of Alex’s disappearance. And when investigators found the boy in the dryer, he insisted that someone had broken into his house and placed Alex there.
Yet Castro would eventually confess to luring the 4-year-old who lived across the street into his house, then sodomizing him. At some point, Alex fell and hit his head,Castro stated. He started crying and saying he was going to tell his mom.
“Castro said he panicked and decided to kill the victim by drowning him in the bathtub,” the affidavit says. The teen — 5-feet tall and 170 pounds — carried Alex over his shoulder and dumped him in the dryer, according to his confession, hoping everything “would go away.”
But you can expect his lawyer to contest that confession. Public defender Kathy Marousek believes her client is in shock, and that he didn’t understand his Miranda rights, making everything he said to police questionably admissible.